Gamelan Encinal

An American Aluminum Gamelan Ensemble

Han Dynasty Bell performances at the Asian Art Museum!

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco presents:
In partnership with the Center for New Music SF

Music for the Afterlife
Pet the Tiger and Gamelan Encinal

New compositions for bianzhong (Han Dynasty bronze bells) and invented instruments
As part of the "Tomb Treasures" exhibition

Performances at noon and 2 PM
Free with admission

Sunday, March 19 featuring Peter Whitehead, overtone flutes and rebab

Sunday, April 16 featuring Sophia Shen, pipa

Sunday, May 7 featuring the Cornelius Cardew Choir

Premiere of Zephyros

We are happy to announce that Gamelan Encinal will be part of the Lou Harrison Centenary concert at Mills College on April 15 at 8 pm. We will be premiering "Zephyros" a new work by Stephen Parris for pipa and gamelan written in Lou's honor. Sophia Shen will be the pipa soloist.

Please visit the events section of our webpage, or click here for more information!

Yantra Meditation

Here is a recording from our November 12 2016 performance of Yantra Meditation by David Samas. Photos used in the video are from a small group performance at the Turquoise Yantra Grotto from September 2015. 

Daniel Schmidt record NOW available!!! - "In My Arms, Many Flowers"

We are happy to announce the release of some recordings of works of Daniel Schmidt. Daniel ran the Berkeley Gamelan for many years, and currently plays in our ensemble. This release features recordings from between 1978 and 1982 from Daniel's cassette archive.

Although this is not a recording of Gamelan Encinal, we strongly support this release!

This is a limited vinyl run! Buy a copy before they are gone!!

Instrument Build Journal 7

Wrapping up all the keys from partial 9 to 32 required building boxes to house the key cradles. 3 boxes were built. All 3 are the same height, so that a single player does not have to deal with changing elevation. he largest holds keys 9 to 16, 2nd largest holds keys 17 to 24, 25 to 32 in the 3rd. Any key above the 17th can be put in either the 2nd or 3rd box. Handles were cut into the sides with a dado blade to avoid the use of external handles, which would impede on proximity of sequential boxes.

The boxes are pine, with aged pine trim pieces. 

Next Step: Gongs!


Instrument Build Journal 6

This entry is deceptively short. With key cradles fully designed with a successful prototype, along with decisions made regarding types of resonators and where they switch, the manufacture of key cradles commenced. Once all the parts were made, all that was left to do was assembly.

Here is a video of the keys for partials 9 through 32 on their individual key cradles. I added the 4th partial at the end, just for fun.


Instrument Build Journal 5.1

We had to determine break points for key cradles, as the larger keys require a wider resonator. we also had to pick a point where we would cross over from box gong style resonators and layout, to key cradle layout. Here are some test videos of that process.

Here is a video determining the point to switch from box gong resonators to tube resonators.

Instrument Build journal 5

The key cradle has been the most time consuming part of this build. It is a little system I developed so that every key can be arranged in any order within their boxes. There will be three boxes for keys on key cradles; holding the 9th to 16th partial, 17th to 24th partial, and 25th to 32nd partial. keys cradles from 17 through 32 will fit in either box.

The last journal entry dealt with the aluminum hangers for the key cradles. this one will deal with the base of the cradle. This is a simple wood frame where all elements converge. This is what holds the hangers and resonator for every key in place.

There were multiple sizes that needed to be cut, and multiple distances for hangers cut, as the keys naturally get smaller. we want the cradles to add as little space as possible to maximize playability of the instrument.

Entry 5.1 will deal with resonators, and include videos of tests for where resonators will change.

Instrument Build Journal 4

Some aspects of instrument building are not exciting, or sexy to talk about, but sometimes these little things are very important to the grand scheme of things.

These are aluminum hangers for string suspended keys. Due to the design requiring each key from the 9th to the 32nd harmonic be able to be arranged in any fashion within an octave, each key needs to have its own support structure. that means that 4 hangers are required for each key. 96 hangers in total.

Not the most exciting work in the build, cutting out 96 little aluminum bars and drilling holes in them, but essential.

I am considering using them to make plate mail for a ren faire costume.

Included is a video of the prototype unit of what we plan to build for each key.


Instrument Build Journal 3

The next step in the process was to build and fine tune the 32 aluminum keys. The Harrison / Colvig instrument has a deviation of 2 cents. We did our best to keep this instrument within 1 cent. A tedious process, but the payoff is totally worth it. The process took about 5 days of work.

Keys cut and stacked - did I mention width to length of each key is a 4:1 ratio?

Keys cut and stacked - did I mention width to length of each key is a 4:1 ratio?

Instrument Build Journal 2

There are 2 design decisions I have made that I feel will make this instrument more performance friendly than the Harrison/Colvig instrument. The first is to use 1/4 wave resonators on all keys. The Harrison/Colvig instrument used volumetric resonators up to around the 9th partial or so. The second is to make all of the keys from the 9 to the 16th partial have their own frame and resonator that can be arranged anywhere in its case. The same will be done for partials 17 to 32. Here are my initial sketches for that design.

key cradle design.jpg

For each decision, there is some empirical testing involved. A test key was made to determine a number of factors about the upper partials. Here is an abandoned idea of having them on a trough resonator resting on foam.

For comparison to the previous video, here is a string suspended key. We decided to give with string suspension.

Instrument Build Journal 1

Since the Gamelan Encinal performance season is over, I thought I would share what I will be doing during the ensembles downtime this year.

Earlier this year, David Samas commissioned me to build an instrument like this one built by Lou Harrison and Bill Colvig. This is an instrument built to be able to play up to the 32nd partial of the harmonic series, with the lowest key being the fundamental. We are hoping to finish the build in a timely manner, so that it can be used in upcoming Lou Harrison centennial concerts.

Here are some photos of the Harrison/Colvig instrument. It is my belief that this instrument was built for testing scales, hearing intervals, and for demonstration purposes. I do not believe Lou ever wrote music for it, and I have never seen a score that calls for this instrument.

My designs will hopefully make for a more performance friendly instrument.

I will be posting updates here as this project progresses!

Social Media Big Fun Party Great Times

Now that the official website for Gamelan Encinal has been launched, I thought it would be a good time to put us out there in the facey-tweet insta-verse. Please follow us on twitter @GamelanEncinal, and on Instagram as gamelanencinal. The facebook page is still there as well!

Summer Hiatus

Gamelan Encinal is officially on summer hiatus!

Although there isn't much exciting happening as far as performances or anything of the like at this time, a few members are working on a commissioned instrument that plays the harmonic series up to the 32nd partial. Please visit an follow our facebook page at for the build journal. I may add the build journal entries to this page in the near future.

It has also afforded us with the opportunity to create a webpage, as you can see!